Barry Bonds has helped Alex Rodriguez get back in the swing after missing a season.
Barry Bonds has helped Alex Rodriguez get back in the swing after missing a season.Barry Bonds has helped Alex Rodriguez get back in the swing after missing a season.
Barry Bonds said in February that Alex Rodriguez wants his home run record.
“He was funny,” Bonds told The Chronicle at the time. “He said, ‘I want to take your record.’ I said, ‘That’s OK. If that’s what you want to do, we’ve got a lot of work to do.’ I was excited he wanted to do it.”
Little did we know that A-Rod was serious. Little did we know he’d have 11 home runs in the Yankees’ first 49 games, that he’d be succeeding and playing regularly, that he’d be playing at all.
Will he catch Bonds? His chances probably are as good as his odds of getting into the Hall of Fame, and we’re familiar with those chances. But at least it’s a question worth examining. It wasn’t in spring training.
Rodriguez turns 40 in two months. He has 665 home runs. He’s on target for 36 this year. He’s signed through 2017. Averaging 36 the rest of his contract would leave him at 762.
Bonds’ record: 762.
Ridiculous, right? A-Rod can’t expect to keep up the pace, not when other ballplayers his age are five or 10 years removed from retirement, not when he’s coming off hip surgeries. Right? He’d be 42 at the end of his contract. Bonds’ age in his final year. Bonds hit 28 homers that season, and he didn’t benefit from the designated-hitter rule.
Rodriguez has made just three starts in the field, two at third base and one at first. His other 40 starts were at DH, hardly a grind, even for someone approaching 40. It’s four pinch-hit appearances a day. It’s less of an injury risk. Less fatigue. Less wear and tear. Bonds got to DH just 39 times in his career.
Last month, ESPN cited a projection system (ZiPS), which gave A-Rod a 3 percent chance to catch Bonds. Before the season, it was less than 1 percent. By calculating a 30-homer, 500-at-bat 2015 season into the mix, he’d have a 20 percent chance to catch Bonds.
Suddenly, it’s a conversation.
Meantime, the RBI race already ended. A-Rod’s sacrifice fly Thursday at the Coliseum gave him 1,996 RBIs, matching Bonds on the all-time list. Hank Aaron leads with 2,297.
“Barry is a great guy and a true professor of the game of baseball,” Rodriguez said after Thursday’s game. “One of the great minds out there right now, one of the smartest guys I’ve ever talked to. Loves the game, extremely passionate about the game. It was fun for me to work with a professor like Barry.”
Bonds worked with A-Rod for several days in the offseason at San Rafael’s Future Prospects facility. Coming off his season-long drug suspension, A-Rod has no problem acknowledging he was tutored by someone else linked to performance-enhancing drugs. Not when Bonds helped him regain his swing and confidence.
“You say the same thing about (Lou) Gehrig and (Babe) Ruth, and Barry’s the same thing, one of the greats,’’ Rodriguez said. “This is kind of special because he’s also a friend.”
And a target.
Bonds and Giants: The Giants still haven’t made Bonds a special assistant, though there was talk of an arrangement consummating shortly after the season opened. It would seem his collusion case against Major League Baseball — arguing that owners acted in concert to avoid signing him in 2008 — might be delaying things, but Giants CEO Larry Baer said the case has “zero to do with it.”
Bonds would be doing work on and off the field, including with sponsors, and perhaps make public appearances. As far as talks with Bonds about the new gig, Baer said, “We’ll pick it up.”
Meantime, Bonds is hosting a three-day camp for kids next month, partnering with Future Prospects founder Charles Scott, his friend and former teammate/roommate at Arizona State. According to a news release, “This is the first time Bonds has ever shared his baseball expertise in a setting like this.”
The cost: $1,600.
Not Robby: Yankees bench coach Rob Thomson said he gets tons of autograph requests — for Robby Thompson, the former Giants second baseman.
“I get 100 Robby Thompson baseball cards a year,” Thomson said. “And people yell all the time, ‘Loved you in San Francisco.’”
Would Thompson ever get confused for Thomson, like maybe in Thomson’s native Canada?
“I seriously doubt it,” Thomson said.
Thompson, working for the Indians as special assistant to the GM, will represent them at the June 8 draft.
John Shea | sfgate.com | May 31, 2015